Monday, November 06, 2006

Solving the daycare dilemma (we hope)

In January, as I believe I've mentioned on, oh, eight or ten occasions, our situation here changes. D goes back to work full-time and Ess goes into daycare. We'd also been thinking that I would add a day at the magazine. So we started looking for daycare in earnest, thinking that we'd need three days a week.

Turns out there is a new daycare on the next street over that came highly recommended by a friend who is also a doula. We visited last week and loved it. The owner bought this house, right next door to the local elementary school, with the sole intention of creating a small daycare facility in it. It's clean, bright and cheerful; there's a quiet sleeping room, and an arts and crafts room, and a room for dress up and another for working on fine motor skills (the provider lives elsewhere). She feeds the kids whole foods at mealtime and, rather than a curriculum, which I think is a little silly for wee ones, she has a general rhythm to the day that changes depending on what the kiddos are into.

So a few days after our visit, we let her know that we would like to take Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. And she told us that the morning after we visited, someone who'd visited the week before had put down a deposit, and that she now only had Wednesdays and Fridays available. Given that I'd known about this place for a month and hadn't called, I was beating myself up rather ferociously about missing our chance.

So we called another daycare, this one recommended by someone D knows professionally. (Argh, Ess is waking up after a stellar 20-minute nap. What am I going to do with her??) We visited this morning, and it was Not Good. It was smelly. And when we arrived, the woman who runs it, along with her husband, was by herself in a small house with eight children under the age of four. And when one of the little boys dropped his bottle on the floor, she cleaned the nipple with a wet wipe (hello, chemicals...). It was clear pretty quickly that this is not some place we would be comfortable sending Ess. Panic city.

In the interim, I'd checked with my boss about the status of my request to add another day, something he'd been the one to propose originally. I thought it was a done deal, just a matter of getting the bean counters to sign off on it. Turns out, though, that like bean counters a lot of places these days, our bean counters aren't feeling particularly generous. While a final decision has yet to be made, it's looking increasingly unlikely that I will be able to add that day. Which means I need to keep freelancing on my days "off." And that we may only need daycare for Ess on Wednesdays and Fridays -- the very days the place in our neighborhood has available.

So we're taking a gamble and putting down a $200 deposit at the neighborhood daycare. If my extra hours come through, we'll worry about Tuesdays then. At least we know that for two days a week, she will be well cared for, and nearby at that (meaning, among other things, I will be able to run over and nurse her at least once a day, and possibly more often than that).

I have no idea if we are making the right decision, but this course of action seems like the best one at the moment. And that's the best we can do right now. And since the grumbling has escalated to whining, I suspect wailing may not be far behind, so I'd better hit publish while I can.